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Agent-based modeling in women’s health: Building Fpsim

Headshot of Michelle O'Brien

Michelle O'Brien

Michelle O'Brien


Modeling epidemiological and social phenomenon in global health can have tremendous impact on policy-makers. Modeling to improve women’s health, especially sexual and reproductive health, have been underrepresented, in part due to data scarcity and complex social constraints. We built an agent-based model to better understand individual heterogeneity, life course dynamics, and women’s empowerment vis-à-vis family planning and reproductive health. This seminar will discuss building FPsim, as well as challenges and opportunities for modeling reproductive health as a critical component of global health. 


Dr. O’Brien received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington in 2019. Her work focused on quantifying the individual and institutional consequences of armed conflict in Tajikistan and Nepal, including for girls’ education, pregnancy loss, and migration. Her postdoctoral work at The Ohio State University and New York University Abu Dhabi led her to examine complex social and population dynamics in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. Currently she works at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Institute for Disease Modeling on the Gender, Vulnerability and Health Equity team, focused on family planning and sexual & reproductive health.